Interior decorating is not just about finding the right furniture and accessories. It is also important to choose the right fabrics. From the proper materials to the best patterns, here is our starter guide to choosing fabrics that will look beautiful, last and suit your lifestyle.
Natural vs synthetic fabrics
The most popular natural fabrics include cotton, silk, linen and wool. For synthetics, you will find rayon, acrylic, nylon, polyester and acetate. Both natural and synthetic materials have their pros and cons. Most homes have a blend of both natural and synthetic fabrics.
• Cotton is very strong, versatile, breathable and affordable, making it a popular choice for everything from furniture upholstery to sheets. It also works for curtains, although the look is fairly informal.
• Silk is luxurious but far more expensive. It’s a great investment for some items, including Oriental rugs and throw pillows. However, be mindful of how the sunlight hits silk items. The material fades over time in direct sunlight.
• Like cotton, linen has a more casual look. It has a breezy and beachy feel. Linen is also great for stain resistance, but it wrinkles easily.
• Wool is the strongest and most durable of natural fabrics - wool upholstery and carpeting will last a long time. It is also warm and cozy. However, wool can be itchy and uncomfortable to the touch (think wool sweaters).
• Rayon is commonly used for window treatments because it hangs well, but avoid this material if you live in an area with high humidity. It will shrink.
• Acrylic is stain resistant, colorfast and fade resistant, but it can be difficult to clean and it gets pilly over time. Often, acrylic is blended with natural fabrics for increased durability.
• Nylon, like wool, is very tough and long lasting. However, nylon is not breathable, which can make it uncomfortable.
• Polyester is another fabric that is often blended with natural fibers in upholstery. It resists fading, but it is difficult to clean and not as strong as fabrics like nylon and wool.
• Acetate is long lasting. It is a great alternative to acrylic because it does not pill and it is wrinkle resistant. It is a great fabric for draperies.
Choosing the right mix of fabrics and patterns
Some people are afraid to mix fabrics and patterns, but sophisticated design involves layering various patterns and textures. Generally, the key is to mix no more than three patterns or textures. More than that and the room starts looking disjointed and unbalanced. Here are some tips:
• Find a fabric or a couple fabrics you love and make that the base of the design. Build your color scheme around the fabrics.
• If you’re going to use multiple patterns, vary the style. Rather than using three florals, use one floral, one stripe and one geometric.
• Vary the size of your patterns. If you have a really large floral, opt for a smaller stripe or geometric pattern to create balance.
• Choose colors that are opposites or near opposites on the color wheel. Plum and yellow look great together, for example, as do teal and tangerine.
• If you’re introducing two or three patterns, it is usually a good idea to choose patterns that share a base color such as red or blue.
• If your room is small, avoid large patterns. They will overwhelm the room and make it look smaller.
• Introduce bold prints on smaller and less expensive items like throw blankets and accent pillows. That way, when you grown tired of the pattern, making a change is easy and affordable.
• Use horizontal stripes to make a narrow room feel wider and vertical stripes to make a low ceiling look higher.
Jessica Dauray Interiors is a full-service, residential and commercial interior design firm with offices in Greensboro and Wilmington, North Carolina. Founder, Jessica Dauray and her design team specialize in custom interior design, as well as renovation and new home construction project consulting and management. JDI' unique interiors can best be described as livable and sophisticated. The designs incorporate classic, clean lines that function to fit your family's lifestyle and design aesthetic. JDI's projects include residences and corporate interiors throughout the New York Metropolitan area..